Georgia Supreme Court upholds 6-week abortion ban News
Harrison Keely, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Georgia Supreme Court upholds 6-week abortion ban

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban on Tuesday, voiding certain provisions of the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act. The LIFE Act established certain limitations and provisions surrounding access to abortion within the state of Georgia.

The Supreme Court found that the trial court erred in overturning the LIFE Act by “relying on since-overruled United States Supreme Court decisions interpreting the United States Constitution when determining that the LIFE Act was void ab initio.” The court remanded the case back down to the trial court for them to determine if the six-week ban “violates the due process, equal-protection, and/or inherent-rights provision of the Georgia Constitution.”

The LIFE Act was passed before the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overruled Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision which provided constitutional protection to an individual’s right to an abortion. Because the act was passed one year before Dobbs, the lower court overruled certain provisions. The LIFE Act bans abortions from the point that cardiac activity is detected, which can be as early as six weeks. The act also requires doctors to determine the presence of a heartbeat before they perform an abortion. Under the act, doctors would also be required to report to the Department of Public Health if they do perform an abortion.

The LIFE Act was originally approved by the Georgia General Assembly back in March 2019, but was struck down by a federal court for being unconstitutional in July 2020. In July 2022, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned the lower federal court ruling, reinstating the LIFE Act. The Eleventh Circuit cited to Dobbs, finding that there is “no right to abortion…under the Constitution.” Therefore, the court allowed Georgia to prohibit abortions. Shortly after in November 2022, a Georgia state judge overturned the LIFE Act, yet again, for being unconstitutional. The same month the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the LIFE Act, it was appealed.

The case will now return to the trial courts for them to determine the remainder of the case.